Barry Hamilton and Edie Genden’s sixth grade classes from Mechanicsburg Middle School were named the grand prize winner of the OCEANS classroom mural contest, a national campaign to help students gain a better understanding of ocean conservation through art.
The Wyland Foundation, Fredrix Artist Canvas, and Volvo Cars of North America donated more than 300 50-square foot canvas paint kits to public and private schools and community centers across the nation. 29,000 students in 39 states painted murals about a range of issues affecting ocean health, from overdevelopment to declining marine biodiversity. But students also chose to contrast marine problems by highlighting the astonishing beauty that still remains in the ocean.
“Children are fascinated by the ocean no matter where they live,” says Wyland, who is best known for his series of 100 monumental marine life murals around the world. “This campaign not only provided them with artistic tools to express their interest in marine life, but the murals share that message with local communities that have a direct impact on these resources.”
Judges chose the 5-foot by 10-foot mural by Mechanicsburg students for its strong advocacy message to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States. “The artwork demonstrates how millions of people across six states depend on this vital natural resource,” judges said. “It portrayed the vast natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the environmental pressures that are currently impacting it.”
Other winning classes included Ray Koch’s seventh-grade art students from Kingston High School in Kingston, Ark., Deborah Thatcher’s fifth-grade art students from Lakeview Elementary School in South Milwaukee, Wis., and Adriana Sandoval’s art class at Miami Shores Community Center & Home Schoolers of Miami Enrichment in Miami, Fla. Classes spent the month of April working on their murals for display at schools and community centers. The grand prize winner will receive $1,500 worth of Fredrix Artist Canvas, $500 for art supplies, a class set of tickets to see Disneynature’s film “Oceans,” and a signed artwork by renowned marine life artist Wyland.
All of the winners are displayed below: